Directed by: Konstantin Vlas
Starring: Eric Saleh and Shannon Reynosa
Short Film Review by: Annie Vincent
An addict goes in search of his missing girlfriend in this short film from Konstantin Vlas and Olympiad films, but that is not all he, or the audience, are left searching for as the sanity slips from his mind and the film’s structure.
Initially, short film Spoonful is quite gripping. A young girl wakes up in a hospital; a young man wakes up from a dream in which he’s drowning, a missing poster on his wall: all intriguing so far. In his flashback, (a dark, intimately lit scene in which silhouette and shadow create both passion and unease) he and a female, presumably the one who is missing, are in bed getting high together. The scene is intimate, but graphic too and she pulls the tourniquet around his arm and injects him. It’s disturbing, but they clearly love each other and who doesn’t love a flawed hero?
But sadly, Spoonful doesn’t lead us where we might like to go, as two plot ideas seem to converge, with no answers for either forthcoming. In the first, scenario this man, El, played by Eric Saleh, takes a gun and shoots a number of men protecting a scientist from making some kind of poison. This scientist has the same missing poster on his desk and we assume his missing lover, Kori, played by Shannon Reynosa, has run into trouble because of the drugs she has been taking – El is on the war path to find her. We settle in for a rescue mission – he’s got to find his girl.
Within minutes, this idea is shattered – only El he thinks he is out to rescue his love, because actually in the next scene we find Kori in the hospital, being counselled into realising that her relationship with El is toxic. In a later scene, another drug addict tells El he isn’t a man, but a devil and Kori is better off without him and so now we have a twist – a damsel who perhaps doesn’t want saving. Now we have a relationship drama – again, an interesting direction that we’re happy to follow. The relationships of addicts is a pretty interesting dynamic for a film after all.
El heads to the hospital to find Kori, but here the film really starts to fall apart because somehow El doesn’t make it to the hospital, eventually ending up washed up on a beach. It’s clear this section is all part of El’s deteriorating mental state and the cumulative effect this poisonous drug is having on him, but this is yet another plot strand and is another one left without a concrete resolution. The end scene is entirely confusing, with El's message about dreams having no link to anything he's previously said or done.
Because of all this, the film is a little self-indulgent. It clearly knows where it is going and heaps on the intimate camera work, moody lighting, unsettling soundtrack, and eventually a motivational speech by the doctor worthy of an Oscar-nominated war film; but the problem is, the film doesn’t communicate that direction to its audience and whilst we can praise the technicality, we really have no clue what has happened to our protagonists or what their motivations are – a crucial element of any successful film. No amount of gun fights, dimly lit underwear scenes, drug den shoot outs or heart-felt hospital scenes can make up for this most basic of mistakes.
Overall, the premise of Spoonful is interesting, but sadly the outcome is just plain confusing.